The Los Angeles Times has a story titled L.A. officer injured during drug probe. A more accurate headline might have been “LAPD Officer Seriously Injured by Motorist.” But, as we shall see, the editors may have had their reasons for failing to highlight the fact that the injuries were caused by a moving vehicle.
An undercover Los Angeles police officer was seriously injured this morning when he was apparently run over by a suspect during a narcotics investigation in Boyle Heights, authorities said.
The officer, identified by colleagues as [redacted], suffered two broken legs and head trauma and was taken to County USC Medical Center, authorities said. He was listed in serious condition.
It may be the case that only one of three officers fired their weapons:
Three officers were involved in the incident, which occurred about 8:30 a.m. near the intersection of East 4th Street and Dacotah Street, said Capt. Rigo Romero. At least one officer fired his weapon at the suspect’s car during the confrontation, he said.
Why might only one of three officers have fired at a car that drove at an officer fast enough to break his legs and put him in serious condition? The answer might well lie in LAPD policy. After the Devin Brown shooting in 2005, the LAPD instituted a new policy that prevents officers from shooting at vehicles in most cases, even if the vehicle is threatening an officer’s life. The L.A. Times ran countless editorials and slanted news articles geared towards achieving this change in policy, which now reads:
Firearms shall not be discharged at a moving vehicle unless a person in the vehicle is immediately threatening the officer or another person with deadly force by means other than the vehicle. For the purposes of this Section, the moving vehicle itself shall not presumptively constitute a threat that justifies an officer’s use of deadly force.
Today’s Times story reports that “[i]t was unclear whether the suspect, who fled the scene and remained at large, was armed.” So under the revised policy, officers may not have been permitted to shoot at the car — even though it could have killed Officer [redacted]. Even if one could argue that shooting at the car was permitted, it is certainly possible that officers may have hesitated because of the uncertainty of the revised policy’s reach.
Did the LAPD’s restrictive shooting policy contribute to a situation in which an officer was hospitalized in serious condition?
I don’t know.
But I do know this: I don’t trust the L.A. Times to investigate the question.
Thanks to Robert C.J. Parry.
P.S. Jack Dunphy is invited to weigh in on this if he so chooses.
UPDATE: More information can be found at the local NBC affiliate. The suspect is named Jose Gubiensio Ortiz, Jr. He attempted to strike another officer before hitting [redacted], who apparently did fire at the suspect. Officer [redacted] was originally in critical condition.
UPDATE x2: I am told that LAPD didn’t want the officer’s name released for safety reasons. I am redacting the name for now out of respect for their wishes. Browsing through news stories, it appears that only the Los Angeles Times has named the officer.